District lots and maps


Pre-emption Process

The Land Act

Index of District Lots and Maps



The Government Agency system of British Columbia had its origin in the office of gold commissioner, which was created by Proclamation of Governor Douglas, dated 7 September 1859.

Governor Douglas
Although legal precedents for this office lay in the mining laws of the colonies of Victoria (Australia) and New Zealand, conditions in British Columbia, especially the impecunious state of the colonial government, resulted in the creation of a unique colonial office.

Governor Musgrave described gold commissioners as

"not only Justices of the Peace, but County Court Judges, Indian Agents, Assistant Commissioners of Lands and Works, Collectors of Revenue in the different departments of the Public Services at the several stations hundreds of miles apart and in very extensive districts."

After Confederation the title "gold commissioner" became restricted to those officials performing the administrative and judicial duties laid out in mining legislation, and the more general title "government agent" has been used for those officials who would have been called "gold commissioners" in the colonial period.
Mr. and Mrs. John Bowron
Gold Commissioner, Barkerville

In July 1860 the first Gold Commissioner for the Cariboo was appointed to reside at Alexandria. By 1862, the events of the Cariboo gold rush had shown that Alexandria was the wrong location for the Gold Commissioner's Office.

Thus, when it was closed and from 1862 to 1865, the Cariboo was divided into two parts, Cariboo East with a Gold Commissioner at Quesnelle Forks, and Cariboo West with a Gold Commissioner at Williams Creek (Richfield).

In April 1865, Cariboo East and Cariboo West were united to form the District of Cariboo with the Gold Commissioner residing at Richfield. Barkerville soon became the actual administrative center, but the official address remained Richfield until 1897. The County Court continued to sit at Richfield until 1914, when it moved to Quesnel, but the office of the Gold Commissioner for the Cariboo remained at Barkerville until 1954, when all administrative functions were centralised at Quesnel.

The process of the sale of Crown lands commenced in 1859 under the Land Proclamation of British Columbia. Because of unacceptable delays in the process of surveying the land, effectively preventing the speedy placing of settlers in an agriculturally productive position, the procedure was supplemented by the pre-emption process.

(BC ARCHIVES GR-0216 Cariboo government agency records Doc..0184H)

Last updated November 30, 1998.
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